Child Life Program

The Department of Child Life, Creative Arts Therapy & School Programs at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children helps patients and their families cope with medical experiences. Our staff promotes the use of play, preparation, education and self-expression activities as a way to normalize the hospital. Our team of certified Child Life specialists are skilled at supporting the child and their family during a stressful medical event. We strive to empower children and families, while partnering with them to meet their individual needs.

Call to request a visit from a Child Life specialist or, if you need immediate assistance, ask your nurse or another team member to contact us.

Leadership Team

Jennifer Sciolla, MS, CTRS, CCLS

Director, Department of Child Life, Creative Arts Therapy & School Programs

Jennifer earned her Bachelor of Science in Therapeutic Recreation from Temple University and her Master of Science from Nova Southeastern University. Jen has worked in many the region’s premier healthcare systems as a clinician and as a Child Life leader. She is a longtime adjunct instructor at Temple University and a consultant for the Child Life Council, providing programmatic consultation and development to Child Life programs across North America. Jen joined Nemours in December 2014 and oversees the Child Life, creative arts therapy and school programs, and also serves as director of the Integrative Medicine Program.

Beth Carlough, CCLS

Manager, Department of Child Life, Creative Arts Therapy & School Programs

Beth earned her Bachelor of Science in Individual and Family Studies from the University of Delaware. She completed her Child Life internship at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. Beth has worked at Nemours for over 30 years. After more than 25 years as a Child Life specialist, Beth now provides direct support to the Child Life and creative arts therapy staff as their manager.

Child Life Specialists
Molly Donadee, MS, CCLS

Certified Child Life Specialist

Tara Gallo, BS, CCLS

Certified Child Life Specialist III

Allison Haughey, BA, CCLS

Certified Child Life Specialist

Jennifer Jankowski, BS, CCLS

Certified Child Life Specialist

Carrie Kelly, CCLS

Certified Child Life Specialist

Caitlin Meehan, CCLS

Certified Child Life Specialist

Laura Mitchell, CCLS

Certified Child Life Specialist III

Melissa Nicely, MS, CCLS

Certified Child Life Specialist

Debbie Palley, BS, CCLS

Certified Child Life Specialist

Jana L. Teagle, CTRS, CCLS, CBIS

Certified Child Life Specialist III

Harlee Wirtshafter, CCLS

Certified Child Life Specialist

Child Life Activity Coordinators
Events and Donations
Marianne Olmstead

Administrative Assistant
(302) 298-7047

What We Do

When a child is anxious or overwhelmed, or other children have difficulty understanding what's happening, it can affect everyone. Child Life specialists support the entire family during a medical experience. Our staff provide all kinds of services and support not only to our patients, but also to parents, siblings and other family members.

Psychosocial support

We can help your child cope with an injury, diagnosis or treatment by encouraging discussion, answering questions, and talking about feelings and concerns.

Preprocedure/preoperative support

We work to reduce your child’s fears and anxiety before a procedure or surgery by explaining what will happen and what to expect.

Support during a procedure

We try to reduce your child’s anxiety by providing distraction and nonmedical pain management.

Medical/therapeutic play

We try to help your child understand and cope better by playing with pretend or real medical equipment and providing opportunities to share feelings, concerns and fears.

Pain and stress management

We strive to ease physical, psychological and emotional pain with relaxation strategies such as guided imagery and deep breathing.

Creative stimulation/development

We use art, music and play activities to promote your child’s growth, maintain developmental milestones, and provide a creative outlet for dealing with emotions.

Bereavement services

We offer comfort, support and memorial activities for families in the event of a child’s death.

Our certified Child Life specialists are trained to understand the different ways children deal with stress, fear, confusion, anger, guilt and sadness — and help them develop coping strategies specific to their individual needs. We’re also here to provide information, support and guidance to parents, siblings and other family members as needed.

Child Life Activities & Playrooms

Kids of all ages want to explore, play and laugh, no matter where they are — even the hospital. Of course, in the hospital, kids’ choices are limited. That’s why we offer lots of fun Child Life programs and activities to keep all of the children we see, from tots to teens, uplifted and entertained during even the most difficult hospital stay.

What is the Child Life Activity Center?

Located on the third floor, around the corner from the Family Resource Center, the Child Life Activity Center is a fun place for patients and families to escape. The Activity Center is a safe haven away from medical procedures, equipment and exams, where specially trained Child Life technicians provide normal play activities. Our patients, their families and visitors can participate in arts and crafts, play with a wide variety of toys and games, read, play video games, take part in cooking activities and much more.

Does the hospital also have playrooms?

On each inpatient unit, you'll find a playroom that's stocked with toys and activities. Patients, families and visitors can use the playrooms to relax, visit and engage in small group activities. Please ask a Child Life staff member if you have questions about the playroom on your unit.

How do I find out which activities and events are offered and when?

From the TV in your child's room, just click on the rollercoaster located on the homepage to find out about Child Life activities and events on the GetWellNetwork Event’s Calendar.

Can my child's siblings play too?

Brothers and sisters can absolutely play too. We just ask that all siblings and visitors under 10 years old be supervised by an adult when visiting the Child Life Activity Center and playrooms.

Pet Therapy Program

The hospital is always abuzz when our furry, four-legged friends join us. Trained therapy teams visit in our playrooms and at the bedside. The dogs provide a great distraction and comfort to our children and families.

Benefits of Pet Therapy

Our tail-wagging friends and their certified handlers have an important job to do — bring smiles.

Pet therapy helps to:

  • reduce stress
  • improve self-esteem
  • lower blood pressure
  • improve overall well-being

Please contact a Child Life staff member for more information.

Be Part of Our Child Life Program

We welcome visitors and volunteers from our community to participate in our Child Life Program.  

Pet Therapy

To find out more, contact our department at (302) 298-7047.

Community Entertainment Program

We always welcome groups and individuals to apply for our Community Entertainment Program, including college and high school groups, community organizations, youth groups, performers, athletes and others.

Learn More About Our Community Entertainment Program
If you’d like to visit, please consider the following guidelines:
  • All visitors must be free of infection.
  • We can accommodate groups of up to 10 people.
  • All visitors must be 16 years or older.
  • Our dress code prohibits shorts, tank tops, mini-skirts or open-toed shoes.
  • Visitors must come with a planned activity with all
    necessary supplies.

Download a Complete List of Guidelines and Instructions »

Apply for a Community Group Visit

You can apply in one of two ways:

Volunteer Opportunties

Volunteers help the Child Life Program in so many ways.
Find Out How to Become a Hospital Volunteer »

Make a Gift or Donation

Make a Monetary Gift or Donation Online »

We’re thankful for our thoughtful and generous community, which provides us with a variety of toys, crafts, games, books and activities for kids of all ages.


We truly appreciate donations of new, unused toys, books, craft supplies and age-appropriate video games.

Learn More About Donating Goods and Services »

Contact Us
Marianne Olmstead

Administrative Assistant
(302) 298-7047

Internship and Practicum Programs

The Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children offers comprehensive Child Life internships and practicum programs open to college students and graduates during the fall and spring semesters.

Contact Us
Laura Mitchell, CCLS

Internship Coordinator
(302) 651-4849

Debbie Palley, CCLS

Practicum Coordinator
(302) 651-4849

Contact Us

Child Life, Creative Arts Therapy and School Programs

Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children
1600 Rockland Road
Wilmington, DE 19803
Phone: (302) 298-7047